Leadership: A Lesson Learned
He circled her at a nice slow trot...
...head down in a submissive posture as if to say, “Can I come in and have a bite?” He had started out as a disruptive handful in a clinic and had not really gotten better, despite repeated thumps on the nose. He wasn’t a bad horse, he just had no manners.
He had had no interaction with a leader, horse or human, and had become a big, unruly lap horse. I didn’t want to get too tough on him, so I decided to let my old mare teach him some lessons about leadership. I set the stage in a small pasture…
I threw one flake of hay in with the 2 of them and stood back to watch. Sara, my old mare was a quiet, sweet alpha that didn’t take nuthin’ off nobody. She settled into eating “her” hay and the youngster came trotting over to get a bite.
Teeth bared, eyes burning with intensity she struck like a snake, her feet barely moving. The youngster fell all over himself trying to get out of the way. I’m pretty sure she didn’t even make contact, but she definitely had made her point. It was HER hay and HE was not welcome. You could see the confused, dazed look on his face not understanding why… as he had always gotten to eat whenever he liked before.This was his first lesson from the alpha mare.
What happened next I wish I would have had a video camera to record. With the flick of her head, she sent him out on a circle. Not a lop sided circle, mind you, but a perfect circle. If he cut in she would flick an ear or swish her tail and he would scramble to get back on his circle.
We watched him in disbelief...
...do 2-4-6-8 perfect circles at a trot around her. He just had his second lesson from the alpha mare. She brought him in with the cock of her head and he came in and started to nibble some hay for a few minutes and then she sent him out again doing circles.
At one point, he decided to come in to the center on his own. Sara never lifted her head from the hay, but rotated her rump toward him and fired off a swift kick and he was back on the circle again. This went on for no longer than 15 or 20 minutes until the hay was gone.
Not only had this youngster received his lessons, but the 3 of us who had been watching received an invaluable lesson in leadership.
There are really just two things that make up a leader: Attitude and Action. Now, you can break each one down further, but it all comes back to these two things. Sara had the right attitude and she took appropriate action when needed. She was never mean or unfair, but she didn’t wimp out either.
I played with that youngster the next day and he was an entirely different horse. He went on to become a good, solid citizen of the herd and I have Sara to thank for that. She had helped a somewhat spoiled youngster understand leadership and how to function in the herd.
When you go to play with your horse the next time remember the Attitude and Action of the Alpha Mare. Can you adopt the same attitude as her and still be effective? What actions does the Alpha Mare take? How does that relate to your actions?
What do you have to do and more importantly who do you have to become to be the leader that your horse needs you to be? These questions MUST be asked and answered if you are to become an effective leader for your horse AND if you want to truly develop the respect and trust of your horse.
I encourage you to download the FREE booklet on 3 LEADERSHIP SECRETS ALL ALPHA MARES KNOW to start getting some insight on what leadership looks like inside the herd. DON’T DELAY…Download it NOW!